The eight Emmy nominations for Andor, including a best drama series nod, is like a medal provided after a hard-fought battle. Not only is it a morale-boost to a creative team that has dedicated years to crafting the Disney+ Star Wars show, it validates their effort to bring something new and complex to one of pop culture’s biggest juggernauts.
“It’s incredibly affirming,” creator and showrunner Tony Gilroy tells Vanity Fair. “I mean, you know what a gamble this show was, and you know what we’ve been reaching for. So yeah, it’s a huge vote of confidence for all of the people that are involved in the show.”
In addition to the nod for best drama series, Andor also received a writing nomination for the prison escape episode “One Way Out,” written by House of Cards showrunner Beau Willimon, noms for visual effects and sound editing, and a directing nomination for Benjamin Caron for the finale episode “Rix Road.” That episode, in which Diego Luna‘s thief and spy is hunted by both his fellow Rebels and the forces of the Empire, also received a cinematography nomination for Damián García, a music nod for composer Nicholas Brittell, who also has a second nomination for overall series theme.
“It’s a day-changer, that’s for sure. It feels great,” Gilroy said after the nominations were announced Wednesday. Gilroy, however, is not on set for the second season, which is currently shooting in the U.K. He has been abstaining from participation due to the ongoing Writers Guild of America strike. “I’ve been off the show since May 1st. By the end of that week, we’d shut down all my accounts. All my emails and dailies and all the stuff I was doing every day, is in escrow,” he says. “I haven’t seen anything. There’s an amazing team of people over there, and our scripts were done before I left. So, I’m hoping for the best.”
Andor took a chance by complicating the traditional light vs. dark dichotomy of the classic Star Wars universe. It focused on Rebels who sometimes take innocent lives, Imperials who are striving to maintain safety and order, and ordinary people caught in between.
The question was whether Star Wars faithful would show up for a story that challenged their fandom and character loyalties, and Andor did struggle somewhat more to build its audience than the comparatively straight-forward The Mandalorian and Obi-Wan Kenobi shows. (Kenobi also had six Emmy nominations, including one for limited series.)
With Andor, Gilroy tried to open up the universe to an older audience who could enjoy the complexity of not always knowing for sure who the good guys and bad guys may be. The Emmy nods validate Team Andor’s effort “to try to change a lane, try to change a grammar and a sensibility to one of the most beloved franchises in history,” Gilroy says.
Andor has been a five-year project for Gilroy, the Oscar-nominated director and writer of Michael Clayton, who’s also known for writing the first four Bourne movies. He said Andor felt more like making a trilogy—or a trilogy of trilogies. “We’re basically making eight films in a sense. The money, the time, the creative ambition of it, it’s not just myself and the core creative team putting aside their lives and their family time. It is just nonstop work putting everything on the line. But it’s also Disney and Lucasfilm really rolling the dice on something that really had never been done before.”
Asked about the biggest challenge, Gilroy zooms way out: “I suppose delivering something that exciting and emotional and carrying that through for 24 hours of television with 300 actors. I mean, the scale of it was something I’d always aspired to, but never thought would ever be possible.”
Even for entertainment veterans, Andor was relentlessly daunting. “All of a sudden you’ve got this incredibly huge toolbox to work with,” says Gilroy, who acknowledged self-doubt creeping in. “Do I have the right things to say? Do I have enough of them to say? Are they tied together?”
Then there were outside variables and complications. “It’s not just the Covid and it’s not just the strike, and it’s not just everything else, it’s just all the possibilities of time,” he says. “You leave from port and you sail off to the South Seas and, man, are you going to come back or not? A Couple years later, you come back. And are you delivering or not? So it is scary. It’s exhilarating, but it’s not without terror.”
As the eight Emmy nominations make clear, Andor remains on course.